After Safari, it’s now Firefox that will apparently refuse third-party cookies by default. The Mozilla Foundation claims it’s for better privacy for its users, I think the mid-term effect will be the opposite.
Third-party cookies are used by online advertising companies to track users. The tracking done is mostly about counting displays and clicks, and what is called “conversions” (the act of buying an advertised product after having been exposed to an ad). It can also be used to build a behavioral profile in order to enhance the targeting. This is how the advertising industry works, the tracking done allows for better targeting and more income for those companies.
I think there is a lot of hypocrisy here, the advertising industry is the most enormous sponsor of the web, indirectly or directly. You hate ads but you use Google services? Did you know that 96% of Google’s revenue come from advertising? It’s just one example but it speaks for itself.
Without the advertising industry, the web as we know it would not exist. How many open source projects are sponsored by Google? How many of you, software engineers who read those lines are working for a company that relies on the online advertising industry for earning money? How many newspaper do you read online without paying a dime?
You get the point, remove ads from the internet, you’ll remove so much money from there, you’ll basically kill the web.
So, what will happen if all main browsers kill thrid-party cookies by default? Well, the impact on advertisers is pretty simple: they won’t be able to track many users. Their business model will be exposed, they will need to react.
What are their options?
It’s obvious that if all browsers drop third-party cookies by default, all the industry will move to fingerprinting and this will be even worse for the user: you can remove a cookie, you can see it, you can configure how you want your browser to deal with it. You can’t do that with fingerprinting.
Everything is behind the scene.
The Do Not Track header was a very good idea, this one is counter-effective regarding users privacy, on the long term.
Think twice Mozilla, if what you really want to do is protecting your users privacy…